TaxPayers' Alliance calls on public sector bodies to cut £13.5 million spend at top PR and marketing agencies

August 23, 2012 2:14 PM

The TaxPayers' Alliance is today demanding that the Government, devolved administrations, local councils and other public sector bodies further reduce the amount of taxpayers' money which they are spending on PR and marketing consultants.

The call comes as PR Week publishes in its latest edition "The Top 25 Public Sector Consultancies", identifying the 25 agencies which received the most taxpayers' cash in 2011.

Top of the list is Grayling (2011 income from public sector fees: £2.8 million), with both Communications Management and Portland also breaking the £1 million barrier.

Between these top 25 agencies, they earned a combined total of more than £13.5 million from the taxpayer last year.

This is despite the Government previously describing such spending variously as "indefensible" and "exactly the kind of waste that local authorities must root out so they can protect frontline services".

Indeed, as a pre-election document published in 2008 by the Conservative Party explained:

"There is a growing tendency by central public sector agencies to hire public affairs companies to attempt to influence and lobby central government... government lobbying is masked by the euphemisms and management speak of ‘stakeholder relationship advice’, ‘political consultancy’, ‘stakeholder management’, ‘strengthening of relationships with key stakeholders’, ‘strategic communications advice’, ‘Parliamentary monitoring’, ‘public affairs support’, ‘policy tracking’, ‘strategic counsel’, and ‘engaging public policy makers and opinion formers’. While these bodies may argue that some of the expenditure is on public relations activity, this raises the question why a public affairs firm is being hired to provide this service, rather than the work being done by the government bodies’ in-house press office staff."

Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said:
"When the Government has called public sector contracts with expensive marketing and PR consultants indefensible, taxpayers will be wondering why on earth they are still footing such a large bill to hire them. Far too much of this money is still going on patronising and unnecessary adverts or paying for basic work that staff within the public sector should be able to handle. Many public sector bodies are really hiring these agencies to promote themselves and defend their budgets. Taxpayers' cash is spent by officials chasing even more of it and resisting necessary restraint in public spending. The Government needs to do more to cut back the amount of money wasted in this way."
The TaxPayers' Alliance is today demanding that the Government, devolved administrations, local councils and other public sector bodies further reduce the amount of taxpayers' money which they are spending on PR and marketing consultants.

The call comes as PR Week publishes in its latest edition "The Top 25 Public Sector Consultancies", identifying the 25 agencies which received the most taxpayers' cash in 2011.

Top of the list is Grayling (2011 income from public sector fees: £2.8 million), with both Communications Management and Portland also breaking the £1 million barrier.

Between these top 25 agencies, they earned a combined total of more than £13.5 million from the taxpayer last year.

This is despite the Government previously describing such spending variously as "indefensible" and "exactly the kind of waste that local authorities must root out so they can protect frontline services".

Indeed, as a pre-election document published in 2008 by the Conservative Party explained:

"There is a growing tendency by central public sector agencies to hire public affairs companies to attempt to influence and lobby central government... government lobbying is masked by the euphemisms and management speak of ‘stakeholder relationship advice’, ‘political consultancy’, ‘stakeholder management’, ‘strengthening of relationships with key stakeholders’, ‘strategic communications advice’, ‘Parliamentary monitoring’, ‘public affairs support’, ‘policy tracking’, ‘strategic counsel’, and ‘engaging public policy makers and opinion formers’. While these bodies may argue that some of the expenditure is on public relations activity, this raises the question why a public affairs firm is being hired to provide this service, rather than the work being done by the government bodies’ in-house press office staff."

Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said:
"When the Government has called public sector contracts with expensive marketing and PR consultants indefensible, taxpayers will be wondering why on earth they are still footing such a large bill to hire them. Far too much of this money is still going on patronising and unnecessary adverts or paying for basic work that staff within the public sector should be able to handle. Many public sector bodies are really hiring these agencies to promote themselves and defend their budgets. Taxpayers' cash is spent by officials chasing even more of it and resisting necessary restraint in public spending. The Government needs to do more to cut back the amount of money wasted in this way."

Latest Blogs: